German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declined President Trump’s invitation to attend an in-person meeting of the Group of Seven next month in Washington, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump plans to hold the world-leader gathering at the White House in late June as a sign of recovery from the pandemic that has killed more than 100,000 Americans and more than 365,000 worldwide.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel Odd Andersen/Pool via AP

Merkel objected to holding the meeting in person, which requires travel that a government spokesman suggested is unnecessary. The United States has more cases than any of the other members of the G-7: Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“The federal chancellor thanks President Trump for his invitation to the G-7 summit at the end of June in Washington. As of today, considering the overall pandemic situation, she cannot agree to her personal participation, to a journey to Washington,” the spokesman said in a statement provided to The Washington Post. “She will of course continue to monitor the development of the pandemic.”

The White House would not confirm Merkel’s decision to decline, which was first reported by Politico. Trump spoke with another G-7 leader, Emmanuel Macron of France, on Saturday, and the two presidents “discussed progress on convening the G7,” according to a statement from the White House.

Macron’s office later put out a statement saying that it is important for all G-7 leaders to attend the meeting while raising the possibility he may not go if Merkel is not there.

“For a face-to-face G7, everyone must be present,” the statement read, adding that “the presence of the Chancellor and the unity of Europeans is important.”

The Trump administration had announced in March that the annual gathering of large industrial economies would take place virtually, but switched it back to an in-person meeting earlier this month.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have indicated they will attend, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to do so. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not committed, citing health concerns.

“There are significant health preoccupations that we have around holding an in-person meeting,” Trudeau said Wednesday, during a news conference. “Would we then as leaders have to self-isolate when we return, which is right now the rule in Canada?”

Abe may also have to self-isolate upon his return to Japan.

Italy’s participation is unclear.


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